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The Exchange | Neapolitan Cookies

December 12, 2010

Ready for more cookie recipes yet? ‘Cause there are a few coming down the pipe! Today I hosted a cookie exchange with some of my favorite family and friends. There were so many delicious cookies to share – I fear that I may end up eating my body weight in baked goods in the coming weeks! Clearly the afternoon was a success – check out my haul!

So many amazing treats – I can’t wait to try them all! I decided to share a recipe that I came across last holiday season – Martha Stewart’s Neapolitan cookies. I adapted the original recipe slightly (it also called for espresso powder in the chocolate half of the cookie, but I wanted to keep it a little more simple). The cookies were very well received last year, so I definitely wanted to share them with everyone this year. They take a little bit of time to make, but overall are quite easy, and they taste wonderful. The flavor of the orange, almonds, and cranberries blend perfectly with the chocolate and walnuts. These would make such a lovely homemade gift!

Christmas can be such a stressful time of year, with many demands (cooking, preparing for guests, shopping for gifts), but baking cookies is such a relaxing experience for me. I better be careful – at this rate I may end up with an insane amount of cookies to eat. But that would just mean more for sharing, one of my favorite holiday activities. Wouldn’t you love to receive a tin of homemade cookies from a friend? Try sharing these cookies (or making them for yourself). You won’t be disappointed. Happy eating!

Neapolitan Cookies (adapted from Martha Stewart)

For the orange-sable dough:                                         For the chocolate-walnut dough:

1 ¼ cups whole blanched almonds                              1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar                                                                           ½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder

¾ cup unsalted butter, room temp.                               1 cup unsalted butter, room temp.

3 TBSP. finely grated orange zest (2-3 oranges)       1 cup sugar

1 large egg                                                                            1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 TBSP. freshly squeezed lemon juice                           1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

To make the orange-sable dough: Place almonds and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the flour and set aside. Place the butter and zest in a bowl and mix using an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until white and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. On low speed, add the almond mixture; beat until combined. Add egg and lemon juice; combine. Wrap in plastic and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To make the chocolate dough: Sift flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until creamy, 3-4 minutes. Working in additions, gradually beat in flour mixture, scraping down sides of bowl twice. Wrap in plastic and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with plastic wrap. In a large bowl, stir the cranberries into the orange-sable dough. In another large bowl, stir the walnuts into the chocolate dough. Press the orange mixture into the bottom of the pan. Using an offset spatula, (or wet fingers) smooth top evenly. Spread chocolate mixture over the orange mixture and smooth evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 350oF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Shake the dough out of the pan and remove plastic. Cut into 2-by-8-inch bricks; cut bricks into ¼-inch-thick slices. Place slices on sheets, spaced 1 ½ inches apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.  Makes about 6 dozen.

PS. Later this week…Christmas Biscotti!

PPS. What is your favorite Christmas cookie recipe?

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